The QERC Spring semester provides an interdisciplinary approach to teaching field biology and conservation.  Students move beyond the familiar classroom atmosphere and into montane cloud forests, coastal mangroves, rural hospitals, and tropical wetlands.

Students are engaged in work and programmed experiences to develop knowledge and skills in the areas of field research, ecological principles, environmental ethics from a Christian worldview, and to develop a culture-orientated perspective.  In this manner students will cultivate and demonstrate applicable approaches to issues of environment and conservation within their geographical and political contexts and the contemporary global challenges facing them.



QERC emphasizes the environmental sciences, biology, pre-health, and the natural sciences.  The program provides courses that keep students on their particular academic schedule while providing more specialized electives for a student’s particular interest.  For more information, check out the course catalog.

Nicaragua Cultural Studies Trip

During the first weeks of February students travel to Nicaragua to gain a broader cultural perspective of Central America. This trip starts with a historic tour of Managua. Next is a weeklong homestay in a rural farm village; working and living with the local campesinos. The trip ends with a few days of relaxation in Granada.

Costa Rica Biomes Tour

The Biome Tour is an integral part of the Tropical Ecology and Sustainability course, and is intended to expand student knowledge of tropical ecology beyond the Savegre Valley. Ecologists and biogeographers define biomes as large-scale ecological units that are a product of regional climate and contain similar plant and animal communities. Costa Rica is typically mapped as part of the Rain Forest Biome.

This tour consists of two weeks traveling to different ecological habitats throughout the Rain Forest Biome.  Students become familiarized with the tropical dry forest, the lowland humid forest, the Arenal volcano, and the Pacific marine habitat, which includes mangroves and turtle nesting sites.

La Piedra Cloud Forest Hike  

The town of Provedencia is San Gerardo's nearest neighbor, located in the valley over.  A full day’s hike will move students through protected cloud forest reserves and into coffee plantations. The hike continues past the waterfalls and rock climbing hotspots of the town of La Piedra, finishing at Armonia Ambiental- a sustainable coffee farm managed by the Mora family.  Students spend a weekend working on the farm learning the basic principals of sustainable farming.  

Coastal Herpetology Expedition

QERC’s Tropical Ecology Sustainability course includes a section on Herpetology taught Dr. John Cossel (NNU). During this week Dr. Cossel leads students on a trip from Cerro de la Muerte (Costa Rica’s second highest peak) down to Hacienda Baru on the Pacific coast.  Here students have immediate encounters with the dense and diverse population of Costa Rican herpetofauna. Students will spend a night camping out in the jungle, go for guided hikes, and enjoy a free day at the beach. 

On even years, this trip is co-lead by Dr. Mike Mooring (PLNU) and includes instruction from the Mammalogy section of Tropical Ecology and Sustainability. 

Community Involvement

Community involvement goes beyond students presenting their research in Spanish.  QERC students are encouraged to take part with the San Gerardo de Dota community.  Read more in Student Life.